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Understanding research for social policy and practice

Understanding research for social policy and practice
Themes, methods and approaches

Saul Becker, Alan Bryman
Hardback, 448 pages, 240 x 172 mm
Other formats available
09 Jun 2004
Understanding Welfare: Social Issues, Policy and Practice series


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North America customers can order this book here from the University of Chicago Press.

"Understanding Research for social policy and practice takes you on a fascinating journey through the world of social research and is so well written it is a joy to read. There are 70 main sections and 47 illustrative boxes, not including the Introduction, Glossary and other additional material, all carefully selected to demonstrate the points made in the text. This represents an immense amount of work and has resulted in a superb text. This book is the kind of book to keep close at hand, to consult as issues arise, as well as being useful as the base for a course in social research methods. It is very good value for money and the hardback should be purchased in multiple copies by libraries."
International Journal of Social Research Methodology
"Understanding Research is one of those books you would go back to - a good one for the collection."
Community Care
"... a valuable resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students, including those in social work pursuing post-qualifying studies."
Research in Practice
"Becker and Bryman have successfully combined the virtues of a strong core text with a multi-authored handbook, providing a comprehensive and accessible overview for students, researchers and users of research. The main text is peppered with expert short case studies, which make the issues come alive, often introducing original and critical reflections. While being realistic about the political limitations on the impact of policy research, it demonstrates repeatedly its value and importance in promoting social justice and welfare."
Professor Norman Ginsburg, Department of Applied Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University

About This Book

It is vital for students, policy makers and practitioners engaged in social policy related fields to understand the importance and place of research and how to interpret and use research findings. They also need to know how to effectively carry out and report good quality research of their own. This landmark book, the first of its kind, will enable them to meet all of these challenges.  "Understanding research for social policy and practice" conveys the excitement, importance and methodological diversity of social policy research and provides readers with appropriate knowledge to help them interpret and assess the research of others and to conduct high quality research. It combines lively and informed discussion of key issues, methods and approaches with practical hands-on guidance and advice and shows how and why social policy research should form a key foundation for future policy and practice. The book is essential reading for students of social policy, social work, sociology, criminology, nursing and other applied social sciences; their teachers; and policy makers and practitioners who would like to improve their use of research evidence and conduct research of their own.

Author Biography

Saul Becker is Professor-elect of Social Care and Health, University of Birmingham, UK. At the time of writing, he was Professor of Social Policy and Social Care at Loughborough University. Alan Bryman is Professor of Social Research in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University.


Chapter One: Research for social policy and practice: Introduction
Social policy and professional practice
Policy research
Research, policy and practice
Evidence and knowledge
Modelling the policy research process
Chapter Two: Formulating research ideas and questions: Introduction
Formulating research ideas
Writing a literature review
Evaluating sources for a literature review
The role of theory in social policy research
Chapter Three: Methodological issues and approaches in social policy research: Introduction
Quantitative and qualitative research
Using existing research
Chapter Four: Quantitative research: Introduction
Fundamentals of quantitative research
Methods for collecting and coding quantitative data
The analysis of quantitative data
Chapter Five: Qualitative research: Fundamentals of qualitative research
Qualitative research methods and sources of qualitative data
The analysis of qualitative data
Chapter Six: Managing social policy research: Introduction
The effective management of policy research
Codes of ethics
Managing particular research methods
Managing policy researchers
Managing safety in policy research
Managing confidentiality in policy research
Managing budgets and budgetary constraints
Managing funders' constraints
Chapter Seven: Disseminating social policy research: Introduction
Dissemination as part of the research process
How to write up policy research
Ten questions to inform dissemination
Making a difference.


Customers in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei must order from their local distributor

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